By Victoria Nampala
The Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa has directed the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries to explain the progress made in containing foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).
Tayebwa said a section of farmers across the country have raised concerns about the quarantine being enforced by the ministry.
“Farmers whose livelihoods depend on these animals need to be appraised but also you as leaders, [because] when you go to your constituencies, you will be asked these questions,” Tayebwa said.
The Ministry of Agriculture recently imposed a quarantine on 32 districts across the country following the new outbreak of the foot and mouth disease. The affected districts include Gomba, Isingiro, Kazo, Kiruhura, and Sembabule among others where the disease has been detected in many herds.
Movement of livestock and livestock products into and out of these districts or through to other districts is immediately banned, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
Tayebwa directed the agriculture minister to present a statement on Thursday, next week, explaining how long these districts have been under quarantine and how long they are anticipated to remain quarantined.
“We need to be brought on board to know how best to respond to these issues. We need to know what is the Minister doing. What the government is doing to resolve the matter? When will the farmers get vaccines against Foot and Mouth Disease? How did the disease spread to various districts yet they usually lock up immediately after they get such cases, what measures are being put in place, and what is the ministry’s long-term plan, to manage and reduce the economic effects of foot and mouth disease,” the deputy speaker said.
He also directed the minister to appraise Parliament on the kind of support the ministry requires from other stakeholders including Parliament to address this matter.
“It’s not that we want to interfere with how they are controlling but we want to be brought on board so that we read from the same chapter, otherwise, you’re going to be answering different questions in your constituencies,” he added.
Uganda has about 40 million livestock including 16 million goats, 15 million heads of cattle, 5.6 million sheep, and 5 million swine.
Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a viral disease of cloven-hoofed livestock and wildlife including cattle, goats, swine, sheep, and buffalos. It has occurred several times in Uganda since 1953 when it was first confirmed. It is characterized by fever and blister-like sores on the tongue and lips, in the mouth, on the teats, and between the hooves.
The disease causes severe production losses, and while the majority of affected animals recover, the disease often leaves them weakened and highly unproductive.